By Doug Ryan
Two gallopers which won qualifiers for the $400,000 Country Championships Final in different years could fight out the finish of the $25,000 Coopernook Hotel Hannam Vale Cup (1250m) at Taree on Wednesday.
They are three-year-old Port Macquarie colt Cogliere, trained by Marc Quinn, and six-year-old Taree mare Sheza Gypsy, trained by Michael Byers.
Left: Cogliere (Andrew Adkins) - sure to take beating at Taree on Wednesday. Image by - Bradley Photographers
Cogliere is having its last race start in preparation for the final over 1400m at The Championships at Royal Randwick on April 1. He held off a strong challenge from four-year-old Taree mare Shotgun Roulette, trained by Wayne Wilkes, and five-year-old Ever So Natural from the Taree stable of Cliff Bashford, in the $150,000 qualifier at Taree on February 26.
Ironically, Sheza Gypsy won her qualifier in 2015 at Port Macquarie when beating Quinn’s Explosive Scene. Sheza Gypsy and Explosive Scene finished out of a place in that final.
The mare has won her past two starts, one of them the Harrington Cup, over 1300m and 1312m at Bushland Drive Racecourse, Taree, and has been kept fresh for this race at Krambach Race Club’s meeting.
Cogliere had a track gallop between races at Tuncurry-Forster Jockey Club’s TAB meeting on Saturday and will have his last race at Taree before the final, then probably have a gallop between races at Port’s next TAB meeting.
“He is ticking over good and has recovered well from his hard run in the qualifier, “ said Quinn.
Quinn wanted to get Sydney and his former apprentice jockey Andrew Adkins to again ride Cogliere but he has commitments at Gosford the same day. Adkins will be on the colt in the final.
Quinn has booked in-form two kilo claiming Kendall apprentice jockey Chloe Baker for the ride: “My horse is there to do his best, I just want him to come through the race safely.”
Byers said Sheza Gypsy had a solid gallop on Saturday, was eating and working well: “Since I put winkers on her, she just wants to run for her two wins. She is well weighted, will be ridden by Matthew McGuren, and only needs a good gate as she loves the Taree track (five of her six wins).”
But there will be plenty of opposition in a field stacked with class, one of them being Taree seven-year-old gelding Single Spirit, trained by Ross Stitt. The horse will be having its 55th start but has won cups all over the country in grabbing 12 wins and prizemoney nearing $350,000.
Stitt knows the gelding may be in the “twilight” years of its career but can still give plenty of cheek, especially on its home track where it won a recent trial by a big margin.
The gelding came back from a spell with a four lengths 8th at Armidale in the Guyra Cup over 1400m but was slow to move and wasn’t suited from then on, doing its best work at the end for apprentice Chloe Baker: “He should get plenty of pace on and a cosy sit in the cup.”
Taree trainer Cliff Bashford won the cup with Ever So Natural last year and has accepted with Emperor Of Oz which was a good second to Newcastle gelding Grammar School over 1000m at the track on February 26.
Coffs Harbour gelding Murvate,trained by Gordon Yorke,was second to Sheza Gypsy on January 31 and has been kept for this, a truly excellent race. Fourth placegetter in the Taree qualifier, filly Valbeata, trained by Bob Milligan, should be hard to beat in the Jim Anderson Dozer Hire/Como Dairy Class 2 Handicap over 1400m, as will fifth in the same race, Port Gold, from the Taree stable of Robert Lane, in the Col Cowans Budgeree Holsteins Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1600m.
SELECTIONS RACE 1: Jester Lionheart 1, Found My Hula 2, Palace Princess 3. RACE 2: Sprite Zah 1, Wide Eyed 2, French Command 3. RACE 3: Smart Ali 1, Williamson 2, Silver Gums 3. RACE 4: Valbeata 1, They Call Me Rose 2, Pindara 3. RACE 5: I Wanna Be A Jeep 1, Invicta 2, I’ll Take Money 3. RACE 6: Sheza Gypsy 1, Cogliere 2, Single Spirit 3. RACE 7: Port Gold 1, Glitterama 2, Wollartant 3.